Neil Pendock Sour GrapesThe wine industry is surprised about the repeated missives i.e. missiles from Neil Pendock, the blogging bully attacking Pieter de Waal, Secretary of the Sauvignon Blanc Interest Group (SBIG), sponsor FNB, Christian Eedes as chairman of the judging panel, and the Sauvignon Blanc producers generically.  Most readers of Pendock’s raving ramblings have no idea what his fight is all about.  There is no better book title to describe this mess than the one penned by Pendock himself, appropriately entitled ‘Sour Grapes‘!

The Sauvignon Blanc Interest Group, with the material muscle of its sponsor FNB, is not allowing polemic Pendock to get away with his defamation, denigration, and  disparagement, and has taken action

*   it has managed to get the Sunday Times to suspend Pendock’s blog on their Times Live website – while his past blogposts are still visible, he has allegedly not been allowed to post any new blogposts since last Friday, the day on which he achieved a record readership of over 6000.  He had to switch to his own rustic rebellious website, on which he smouses his wines, and rants and raves on his blog, posting seven blogposts yesterday!  With only a handful of readers of his personal blog, he has lost media muscle overnight!

*   it has taken legal action, in all likelihood to sue profane Pendock for the defamatory attacks against its producer association and its Secretary Pieter de Waal, who has received the brunt of  Pendock’s vitriolic venom. Pendock has confirmed the legal proceedings against him, in this Tweet to his pal Emile Joubert, one of only two Twitter pals left:  ‘@emile joubert  Keen to expose the behaviour of SBIG secretary (i.e. Pieter de Waal) and looking forward to my day in court‘!

*   yesterday the Sauvignon Blanc Interest Group sent an e-mail to its producers, to explain to them exactly what has led to this media melee, to confirm its communication with Times Live about its hosting of Pendock’s blog and the demands for action to be taken against Pendock, and to announce the temporary resignation of Pieter de Waal as Secretary of the Sauvignon Blanc Interest Group. No mention is made of the alleged legal action in the e-mail:

‘You may recently have seen or heard that Neil Pendock has been attacking SBIG, myself, the Top 10 Sauvignon Blanc Competition as well as FNB from all possible angles.  As I have had a number of calls from producers seeking clarity on the matter, I would herewith like to offer my side of the story directly, for you to make up your own minds as to the motivation behind the vicious and malicious attacks.

Neil Pendock and I had a very good relationship up until the end of June 2012 when I had to inform him that he had not been chosen to be on the panel for the 2012 FNB Top 10 competition.  Before this I had edited one of his books (for which he paid me) and he had also done some work for SBIG (for which SBIG paid him).  He had also acted as reference for a job that I had applied for. 

Not being selected to be on the panel turned Neil Pendock against SBIG and South African Sauvignon Blanc in general, so much so that at the end of June 2012 I wrote to him stating that, under the circumstances, I did not feel that we could be friends anymore as I had a duty to Sauvignon Blanc and the Interest Group, while he was openly attacking both.

The final straw came on 7 October 2013 when Neil blogged that “inappropriate coaching of judges” had taken place at the 2013 FNB Top 10 Sauvignon Blanc Competition.  As this is a very serious matter, I immediately tendered my resignation from SBIG and the FNB Top 10 Competition, until such time as the truth surrounding this matter could be established.  All of the judges in the competition were contacted, and every one made a declaration that no inappropriate coaching had taken place.  The audit report from PKF Auditors also supports the fact that the competition was run in an unbiased and objective manner.

On 10 October 2013 I wrote letters to the editor of Times LIVE, Reuben Goldberg, as well as the General Manager Digital Times Media, Derek Abdinor, in which I laid a formal complaint regarding Neil Pendock’s libelous statements on his Times LIVE blog.

On 12, 13 and 14 October Neil Pendock wrote a total of four articles on his own blog attacking me, SBIG, the Top 10 Competition as well as FNB without any facts to back up his claims.

These untruths and insults include:

1)   that the ” … Sauvignon Blanc Interest Group are complaining to the Sunday Times about a recent blog pointing out the negative correlation between their FNB Top Ten and the Veritas results.”

This is not true and Neil Pendock knows it.  I complained in my personal capacity to the Sunday Times about the libelous statements made against my character, implicating me in fraudulent behaviour of “match-fixing” – the only conclusion that can be drawn from reading the blog and the comments written by Neil Pendock.

2)  that I asked Neil Pendock “… to judge the FNB Top Ten last year and then cancelled me at the last moment …”

My e-mail to Neil in this regard specifically stated that I would like to nominate him to be on the panel, and I enquired as to his availability to act as a judge on the panel.  After it was decided not to have him on the panel, I immediately informed him of this on 20 June 2013, almost two months before the actual judging took place.

3)  that FNB paid for me to be able to judge at Concours Mondial du Sauvignon earlier this year, or as he put it “Did FNB pay for the SBIG secretary to usurp my gig?”

I attended, and judged at Concours Mondial du Sauvignon, held in Blois, France, at my own expense and without any financial contribution from either SBIG or FNB.

4)  “Does the SBIG have a brief to stuff up SA wine tasting?  Are they a branch of WOSA?  Are they funded by Chilean Sauvignon Blanc producers?  It’s certainly starting to look that way.”

I don’t think I need to even respond to that as it’s quite evident that Neil Pendock has made this a very vicious and personal attack, and there’s little that I can do to change the matter.

I have asked Times Media Ltd, as a respected organisation, to distance themselves from the subjective and malicious writing of Neil Pendock.  Although I have not had any indication from Times Media Ltd in this regard, there have been no new postings on Pendock Uncorked since my complaint was lodged, and Neil has reverted to his own blog to continue his vicious attacks.

I have requested the following from Times Media Ltd:

1)  Mr Pendock be asked to write a formal and unconditional apology to me regarding his accusation that I inappropriately coached the judges of the 2013 FNB Top 10 Competition.
2)  That Mr Pendock writes a letter of apology to FNB, as well as the judges of the 2013 FNB Top 10 Competition, for casting a cloud of doubt on their character and integrity.
3)  That these apologies be published as the last ever blogpost on the Times LIVE Pendock Uncorked blog, and kept there for a period of 30 days before permanently closing down the site.
4)  That Times LIVE formally distances itself from the malicious libel aimed against me, FNB and the 2013 FNB Top 10 Sauvignon Blanc Competition by Mr Pendock.

I am sure the people at Times Media would also like to hear the opinion of industry players, and I would therefore ask that you send your comments directly to them.

Reuben Goldberg – goldbergr@timeslive.co.za
Derek Abdinor – AbdinorD@timesmedia.co.za

I thank you all for the wonderful opportunities I have been granted as secretary of the Sauvignon Blanc Interest Group (SBIG) over the past eight years, and also the organiser of the FNB Top 10 Sauvignon Blanc Competition.  It has been an honour and a privilege.

Regards

Pieter

Pieter de Waal
021 949 4837
083 357 3864′

A Pendock patron forwarded De Waal’s e-mail to him, and he retaliated once again,  his seventh blogpost yesterday.  He insinuates that he too will use legal action against the Sauvignon Blanc Interest Group, for having his blog on Times Live closed down.

Given that the e-mail addresses of the Sunday Times executives responsible for the blogsite have been included in De Waal’s e-mail, a number of other Pendock victims will be writing to the newspaper group, to request that the Pendock blog be closed permanently, and that his disparaging and defamatory blogposts be removed.  We have sent our e-mail already, having been the subject of repeated recent abuse by Pendock in retaliation to our blogpost about his petite Pendock Wine Gallery at The Taj!

POSTSCRIPT 16/10: Tim James of Grape blog, a regular victim of prickly Pendock, has broken his silence and written a no-holds barred expose on Pendock’s sour grapes retaliation whenever he has been dropped from a judging panel.  Funny is James’ description (PS: since removed by James) of ‘Advertorialist Michael Olivier’, a friend of nasty Neil, a blogger we have accused of lacking ethics in copy-and-pasting media releases, and in not declaring that he writes about his Winery Partners in return for payment!

POSTSCRIPT 16/10:  I called Pieter de Waal today.  He confirmed that no legal action has been taken against Pendock at this stage.  He also expressed his annoyance at Times Media Limited in not reacting in writing to his complaint about Pendock’s defamation.

POSTSCRIPT 16/10: Angela Lloyd is a highly respected wine judge, taster, and writer, and has also received criticism from Pendock.  She wrote about Pendock and the damage he is causing for our local wine industry on her blog today, and endorsed Pieter de Waal and the way he goes about the FNB Sauvignon Blanc Top 10 competition.

POSTSCRIPT 17/10: ‘Advertorialist’ Michael Olivier has  a new-found friend in Neil Pendock (sharing a target in ourselves), and retweeted each of prickly Pendock’s blogpost link Tweets today.  Given nasty Neil’s new career low, copy-and-paste Olivier must be looking to self-destruct his business, as well as the reputation of his paying ‘wine partners‘ by doing so!

POSTSCRIPT 19/10:  Not usually known for his lack of originality, vulgar Pendock has stooped to copy-and-paste ‘journalism’ in his Diners Club Young Winemaker of the Year 2013 blogpost,  joining his sole mate ‘advertorialist‘ Michael Oliver (see above)!   The media release from African Sky Communications, which a number of us received, lists the six finalists, and a description of their wine, which unprincipled Pendock has copy-and-pasted into his blogpost without acknowledgement to the PR company. Finding the writing in their media release good enough to copy into his blogpost, he calls for the company to be fired!  To echo the headline of his blogpost: Pendock ‘please vacate the stage’!

POSTSCRIPT 19/10:  Feisty Sonia Cabano has reprimanded potty Pendock on Twitter in describing a packet of artichokes as  ‘waterblom‘!   She is not a ‘lady’ to be messed with, and shares many traits with Pendock. He has ignored her public lynching!

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage